There’s a reason football players — from the youngest youth leagues to professionals — wear helmets and pads. And as history has shown repeatedly, even those protective measures don’t prevent every injury.
Thus, anyone with any sense could have known that it was a matter of time until the designated guinea pig that Willie the Wildcat tackles at midfield before almost every KSU home football game would be injured.
That time came Saturday before the KSU-West Virginia game when the KSU student playing West Virginia’s mascot couldn’t get up after Willie, charging at full speed, tackled him. The extent of his injuries isn’t clear, but early indications are that he suffered a concussion when the back of his head struck the stadium’s artificial turf. He was taken to Mercy Regional Health Center, where he was treated and released Saturday evening. That’s fortunate for him and the university.
The pregame skit has always been entertaining in a Roman coliseum sort of way. Willie hasn’t just won every contest, he’s all but demolished the opposing mascot — to the roar of a crowd that has come to expect a big hit even before kickoff.
The skit needn’t be eliminated, but it must be toned down. There’s no reason there couldn’t be mock battles that Willie — of course — would win, but those should exclude forceful takedowns with their inherent risk of injury. Or the skit could go in another direction entirely. There are enough creative minds in the program to come up with something delightful.
That might not satisfy the most bloodthirsty fans in the stadium, but nothing takes the fun out of pregame entertainment quite like a serious injury.